Act thankful: Buy American

November 23, 2011
By: Vicki Bell

My favorite holiday is upon us—Thanksgiving. A day spent sharing a meal and quality time with loved ones; calling family and friends in other parts of the country; watching football (in moderation); and expressing gratitude for all the good things in our lives makes for a great day in my book.

Among the things I'm most thankful for is the country in which I live. Granted, the U.S. has problems, but so does the rest of the world. The economy could be better (it also could be worse), and our elected officials don't seem to be making much headway in resolving important matters. 

A matter of importance to domestic metal suppliers was described in this month's "Tube Talk" e-newsletter. It involves protecting our military and U.S. jobs, and "Tube Talk" readers shared their thoughts. 

The newsletter referenced an article on "Has steel become a product of confusion?" The article describes how Congress and the Pentagon are tangling over the interpretation of the single word "produced," and in doing so, are putting the protection of thousands of U.S. troops abroad—and thousands of jobs in the steel industry at home—at risk.

Until two years ago, armor plate suppliers were required to have the specialty metal steel melted domestically—or in one of 21 countries with which the U.S. has a reciprocal defense procurement agreement, such as Canada and Israel. In 2009, the Defense Department issued a rule that defined specialty metals "produced" domestically as those that undergo just the final steps of the manufacturing process—cooling and heat treating—in the U.S., paving the way for the use of armor plate steel melted in China, Mexico, and Russia, among other countries.

According to the article, "steel industry executives and their allies in Congress were left fuming and have since mounted an aggressive effort to persuade the Pentagon to scrap its new interpretation and return to the days when 'Made in the U.S.A.' meant exactly that, from start to finish. The new rule, they argue, bucks decades of precedent and threatens to erode a domestic industry that’s key to U.S. security."

Responding to the newsletter, a long-time reader who works for a custom industrial separation equipment manufacturer said, "There is a big movement on in this country to buy American-made products, or to at least locate a manufacturer and fairly price their product before going outside the United States to purchase that product. Whether it is furniture, construction materials for the home, or business, look to American products first before going anywhere else. Well the Defense Department is spending our taxpayer dollars for this material, and if we, the taxpaying citizens of this nation, are going to look for American products then the Defense Department should do the same. 

"My company buys about 5 million pounds of steel a year and we buy from American producers; the Defense Department has no legitimate reason for doing otherwise." 

A welding instructor said, "It seems strange to me, (maybe it is just governmental thinking), that we give away big bucks to large companies earmarked to stimulate the economy, but government projects use products not made in the U.S.A.  It is very misguided and wrong for our workers." 

A reader from a fabricating company in the Midwest said, "We worked very closely with a company in our state that manufactured lift cylinders for military vehicles. We had made a large investment in their products that were to be used on the MATV vehicle used primarily in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"After 2 years of working out the major details and having a large production order in excess of 10,000 parts held hostage, the time came for production orders to start coming in. Upon visiting this customer, they had no problem informing me very abruptly that the production orders had been moved to China, and we would not see any of the large volume orders.

"The end-user has always made claims that all parts were to be made in the U.S.A. I can attest that many parts that end up on military vehicles have many components not manufactured in the U.S.A." 

A reader from a company that manufactures metal bellows, expansion joints, and metal hoses said, "Buy American!! That means country-of-melt  is the U.S., and not just where the final mill rolling takes place.

"God save us all, and God bless what's left of our great country that's not outsourced yet. Why don't they outsource the damned Wall Street investment bankers?" 

Want to express your thanks for and help improve our great country? Make a sincere attempt to purchase U.S.-made products whenever possible. Your actions will say "thank-you" far better than your words. (This goes for you, too, DOD.)

Follow fabcomlady on Twitter.

Become a fan of The Fabricator® on Facebook.
Vicki Bell

Vicki Bell

FMA Communications Inc.
2135 Point Blvd
Elgin, IL 60123
Phone: 815-227-8209